NEW DELHI: An Indian antitrust investigation has found that units of Tata Steel, Sweden’s SKF and Germany’s Schaeffler colluded on the pricing of bearings, a report seen by Reuters shows, opening them up to potential fines.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) began an investigation in 2017 after allegations that five companies colluded on bearings prices from 2009-2014 to pass higher raw material costs onto customers in the auto sector.
The CCI can fine firms up to three times the profit made in each year of wrongdoing or 10 per cent of revenue, whichever is higher. European Union antitrust regulators fined SKF, Schaeffler and three Japanese auto parts makers $1.3 billion in 2014 for taking part in a bearings cartel from 2004 through 2011.
CCI’s investigations arm said in a report dated May 6, which has not been made public, that it analysed company emails, call records and executive testimonies and concluded that SKF India, Schaeffler India, National Engineering Industries and Tata Steel’s bearings division contravened antitrust law by discussing and agreeing prices.
SKF, the world’s largest maker of ball-bearings, said in a statement it had assisted the investigation and disputed any claim of wrongdoing.
Schaeffler did not respond to a request for comment. Tata Steel and National Engineering Industries - part of Indian conglomerate CK Birla Group - declined to comment beyond saying the CCI proceedings were confidential.
The investigation arm’s 106-page report said it found no evidence against the fifth firm, ABC Bearings, part of U.S. firm Timken Co. ABC Bearings declined to comment....